HDTV Buying Guide:

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With Memorial Day quickly approaching, people of all ages prepare for their big trip to the lake, beach, swimming pool, or other annual event.  While some people use their day off to relax and officially kick-off the summer, it is also a day filled with retail deals and sales.

And what many people don’t realize is that it is one of the best times of the year to upgrade your television.

As it does in nearly any electronic, the technology in televisions continues to evolve every year.  Luckily, we are here to provide a buying guide to help you get the BEST TV for your home. In this buying guide we will focus on 4 main categories:

All HDMI Cables are Identical

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All HDMI Cables are Identical

Summer is quickly winding down.  School buses are showing up during your morning commute, the days are growing shorter, and soon autumn leaves will begin to fall.  Don’t worry, with all of these comes the end of the 7-month tragedy that is life without football.

Naturally, with all of that excitement for football season comes a surge of electronic purchases.  And those electronics all require one item that you have no idea about: an HDMI cable.

Ok, Ok, not all HDMI Cables are truly identical.  Most companies have different manufacturers with various subtleties making them physically different.  But when it comes to picture and audio quality, that $250 cable from your local electronics retailer won’t look much different than a $2 cable from an online source.  What makes up an HDMI cable?  Why is there little to no perceptible difference?

The Specs: What is HDMI?

All HDMI Cables are IdenticalHDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface.  Makes sense right?  In its simplest form, an HDMI is a single cable capable of transmitting high-definition video and high-resolution audio.  HDMI cables provide the highest image quality of any cable on the market.

While stores may try to sell you on what seems like hundreds of different HDMI cable options, only 4 main types exist:

  • Standard-speed
  • Standard-speed with Ethernet
  • High-speed
  • High-speed with Ethernet

Standard speed is rated to run up to 1080i resolution, with high-speed rated to 1080p and higher.  Ethernet capability is an extra feature only necessary if your equipment requires Ethernet-over-HDMI compatibility (not common).

The Facts: 3 Things to Know

While there are many technical ways to explain this, here are 3 quick tips that will save you big bucks.

1.  HDMI either provides a perfect signal or no signal at all

Unlike previous video/audio analog transmissions, a HDMI connection is either all or nothing.  In previous cables, a weak or degraded signal caused an equally weak or degraded picture.  For HDMI, you either get perfect quality or none at all.  Cables that claim better picture quality or claim to alter the signal are misleading you.

2.     Ignore ratings like “Made for 240 Hz” or “15.8 Gbps”

While most sales representatives will push an expensive cable to match your HDTV speed, that feature ultimately doesn’t matter.  Consumer equipment (DVD players, etc.) has a maximum resolution, mostly 1080p/60.  Your TV will internally convert any signal to the necessary Hz for the best picture.  Unless your equipment is specially rated to higher specs (not common), the cable doesn’t need to be extensive (or expensive).

3.     The price doesn’t matter

I know, it’s hard to believe, but this piece of info is of vital importance.  Extra money may buy physical features, a name brand, or better packaging but it will provide no perceptible increase in visual and audio clarity.

 

At the end of the day, it’s your money to spend.  Want to buy an expensive cable? Go for it, but don’t be shocked when it provides the same picture as your neighbor’s cheap cable.  Pick the cable your system warrants (usually not the most expensive option) and plug it in before running it throughout your house (to ensure it works).  Not only will you save yourself some money, but you’ll also have a pretty good picture to show off to the neighbors.

Have questions or comments?  Let us know what you think!

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Oh My, Oh My… Why HDMI?

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Tablet_Remote

Simplify, they say.

Simplification seems to be the growing trend in society.

Peace, harmony, fulfillment through simplification.

If only it were so… simple.

Speaking of trends and simplification, however, a techie like me can’t help but think of the benefit of recent technology, where “simple” helps drive the digital/electronic market. Take Apple, for instance. Your entire computer contained within the monitor! Wireless keyboard, wireless mouse. No wires! Genius… Fancy, too.

I’ll confess that my life seems to go smoother with my trusty iPhone. The iPad is practically sewn to my hand, as well, which saved me last week at my daughter’s dance recital. I forgot my camcorder, so I just casually shot some HD video with the iPad. On the way home, I stopped and bought an HDMI cable to connect my iPad to the TV to show the whole family the HD video I’d captured.

Less is more, indeed.

HDMI technology helped me avoid the risk of future therapy for a daughter who felt neglected because her Daddy forgot the camcorder and had no record of the recital from years ago. A few years ago, I had no idea what an “HDMI” was, much less how it could save my daughter’s sanity.

So what’s this “HDMI cable,” anyway?